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Lots of interesting videos/ media floating around on social media with Autism Awareness day...

kefio05's picture

Hey guys! 

This is one of the videos that came up on my newsfeed this week. It is an advertisement by Apple showing how the iPad can be used to help autistic children and individuals "find their voice". Yes you can obviously tell that Apple is trying to promote their product (especially in the first clip), but other than that I'm not sure how I feel about it... thoughts/ responses?

There are great points made, attacking the sentiment that autistic individuals are not intelligent or do not have a mind. But when Dillan said that "autism is hell" I was a little taken back. He describes his autism as something that isolates him and stops him from connecting with those around them, which could be for the purpose of demonstrating how Apple products can help individuals who feel the same. So I guess the question is how much say did Dillan get in his representation? I want to say that they are representing Dillan as he would like to be represented, but I'm not super sure. 

Again, thoughts??


sarah7's picture

I've actually been having a lot of interesting conversations with my sister, whose studying to become a special education teacher (how the program phrases it), recently about autism and Autism Speaks, prompted by all of the stuff floating around for Autism Awareness day/month. I was filling her in on all the latest CCW goings-on and we were both getting so excited about the really cool perspective that disability brings to art and the world in general. She explained to me that she's drawn to the special education program at her school because she sees it as a way to learn techniques and ways of thinking that will allow her to better teach all her students, not just those with disabilities. This led me to bringing up the cure model to her, and asking her opinions and what she's heard from the education side of it. All of this brought us to talking about Autism Speaks because that's an organization on her campus that circulates in an overwhelmingly positive light - one of the sororities has it as their charity and they host a lot of fundraisers for it. So in talking about Autism Speaks she expressed to me how she can understand how parents who have no access to places like CCW, no access to representations of disability (and especially autism) as positive, feel drawn to the idea of a cure because all they want is the best for their children. We agreed that it's really important in thinking about things related to disability to keep in mind where people are starting from (something Lindsey and I have also discussed a lot recently). Not everyone comes from a place where they have ever understood disability as anything but negative, so we desperately need more representations that show disability as a complex marker of identity (as we have talked about all semester). 

Okay so this all brings me back to your post because I think it's really interesting that within the span of 2 minutes Dillian not only refers to "autism as hell" but also speaks to how he "gets to experience the world in a very unique way." While I might push back on "autism as hell" because of my limited understandings and perspectives, I think perhaps we could read the juxtoposition of those statments in this ad as the kind of nuanced portrayl of disability our society needs. 

Also, just going to drop this quote of Simi Linton's that I keep going back to when thinking about how we can best support disabled people (like with iPads) in achieving whatever is important to them without erasing their disability:

"I don’t see working hard, doing well, or striving for health, fitness and well-being as contradictory to the aims of the disability rights movement…However, we shouldn’t be impelled to do these because we have a disability, to prove to some social overseer that we can perform, but we should pursue them because they deliver their own rewards and satisfactions."


Liv's picture

I agree. I think disabilities in all forms (emotional, mental and physical) are multidimensional. My god daughter was born premature and is missing a few fingers. My family was concerned for her health, ability to do day to day tasks and also the ways she would act around other children who might not understand. I went to school with another girl who had similar complication with her hands as my god daughter. How does this relate to an ad targeting autism? Well I think disabilities give the inhabitor a level of resilience that  is overlooked with struggle. Their ability to function despite their differences is underestimated and becomes their life story. Yes, as Dillian mentioned disabilities can be hell. It is desabling (hence the name) for those who have it because or society doenst offer ways to live without looking for ways to be othered and disenfranchised. The rise of technology has certainly helped those in  need and others to become more educated on disabilities than ever before, but there is still a lot to be done. A life in the "other" category can be extremely difficult and isolating, but also enlightening to the ways you interact with your surroundings. Without the iPad I would have never been able to hear the joy in his voice when talking about nature or the last insightful bit of his graduation speech. The fact the iPad helped him build the confidence to give the speech in the first place is a beautiful thing.